Floorboards, a student literary magazine, was developed and published at St. Thomas University by students and faculty. The magazine featured poetry and short stories written by a variety of authors, many of whom attended St. Thomas University or the University of New Brunswick. Four issues of the magazine were released: the first in 1968, the second in 1969, and the third and fourth in 1970.
The editor of the magazine was Dan Dawson, a student of St. Thomas University. He was twenty years old and in his second year at STU when the third issue was released in the Spring of 1970. Over the term of his editorship, he contributed several poems to the magazine, such as “The Cat and Mouse Phenomenon,” “The Sand Man and Me,” and “The Final Easter.” Among others who edited and produced Floorboards were Louis Cormier, Steve Lord, F. Kilravey, Eddie Clinton, and R.W.B. Douglas.
The second, third, and fourth issues of the magazine featured editorials from the editor. Included is the following editorial featured in the fourth issue:
This time, I said to myself, this time we’re going to get organized and we’re going to put out a beautiful issue in the summer. No fuss no muss. We’re going to sit right down and get it done. That’s what I told Louis in April, and he was impressed. He said good, I’ll come see you in Moncton this June and we’ll put the thing together. But things got out of hand. I came to Moncton and Louis went to Saint John. And in the move the manuscripts were lost. I didn’t find them again until August, when I was rooting around in some old papers. It took quite a while to separate the old manuscripts from the newer ones.
Louis and I never did get together last summer, even though we made arrangements on several occasions. I was never in the right place at the right time and since I had the manuscripts, nothing got done. So you see Floorboards #4 is a miracle. Without the thoughtful assistance of Jim Stewart, Les Rolston, and my old lady you wouldn’t be reading the miracle right now. All you doubters of the Miracle Phenomenon take heed. I’ve just told you about one that is publicly observable and readable in living grey and blue. So take it from me – buy a copy and keep the faith. (Dan Dawson, Oct. 1970)
Like this editorial comment, the magazine exhibited a relaxed and personal tone, allowing the reader into the lives of Dan Dawson and those who contributed to it. It was not professionally done, but assembled with obvious effort. Those who were committed to its production enjoyed the process and had a passion for poetry and short fiction.
The magazine sold for $1.50 for four issues and less for each. The third issue sold for $0.50 and the fourth for $0.25. Each issue centered on one author, but also included the works of several others. The first featured Darlene Nowlan. The second featured Terry Crawford, who had several poems and a chapbook published. The third featured John Fisher, who was twenty-two years old, and was described as “trying to discover a way to make poetry come alive.” The fourth featured a collection of landscapes by Leslie Rolston who lived in Moncton, NB and owned an art studio.
Among those who wrote for Floorboards was well-known Maritime poet Alden Nowlan who, at the time, was writer-in-residence at UNB. He had four poems published in the magazine: “In the Park,” “The Factory Worker’s Poem,” “Survival,” and “Night Fears.” His poem “Night Fears” has subsequently been frequently anthologized.
David Adams Richards is another well-known writer whose work appeared in Floorboards. He was a first-year student at St. Thomas University when his short story entitled “Charlie” was published in the magazine’s third issue. A.G. Bailey (historian, anthropologist, poet) submitted his poem “St. George Street Tea-Room” to the same issue while he was the Academic Vice-President at UNB. In addition, Fred Cogswell’s “A Letter” was published in this issue.
The covers of the magazine featured beautiful pencil sketches, though the artist for each issue was not identified. The only other artwork that appeared was that of Leslie Rolston in the fourth issue. Rolston contributed several pages of landscape drawings.
Floorboards was a short-lived student literary magazine. At the time it was published, it was popular throughout the St. Thomas community, and known in New Brunswick literary circles, but not known in a wider Canadian context. Copies of the four original issues are archived at the Harriet Irving Library at the University of New Brunswick.
Jessica Murphy, Spring 2010
St. Thomas University
Bibliography of Primary Sources
Floorboards 1 (1968). Ed. Dan Dawson. Rufus Hathaway Collection. UNB Archives & Special Collections, Fredericton, NB.
Floorboards 2 (1969). Ed. Dan Dawson. Rufus Hathaway Collection. UNB Archives & Special Collections, Fredericton, NB.
Floorboards 3 (1970). Ed. Dan Dawson. Rufus Hathaway Collection. UNB Archives & Special Collections, Fredericton, NB.
Floorboards 4 (1970). Ed. Dan Dawson. Rufus Hathaway Collection. UNB Archives & Special Collections, Fredericton, NB.